August 23, 2017
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I spent some time playing with the new IC-7300 transceiver this weekend on various modes. My first comment is that having used an IC-7100 for some time I was instantly familiar with about 90% of the IC-7300 controls. Most of the buttons are labeled the same and many of the setting menus are also the same. First thing I installed was a headset adapter so I can use the Koss SB-45 headset. I needed a plug adapter (which I luckily had on hand) to plug in my Vibroplex paddles. Rig control via Ham Radio Deluxe was fairly straightforward as the USB drivers are the same as the IC-7100. I started operating on 20m during the North America QSO party on Saturday with the 1/4 wave verticals.
My first impressions are that the rig works well (and possibly better) than the IC-7100 on SSB. My signal reports were solid 59’s and occasionally 59+ all across the USA. Also made some DX with favorable reports. Receive options make it easy to adjust RF gain controls and filters to help clean up the signals. I like the overload indicator which tells me to back off on the preamp or RF gain or both. The main learning curve for me thus far is in using the scope screen. Once you play with this awhile you get used to operating more visually. You can see whats going on across the whole band and find signals to tune into or find dead spots where the frequency is open. It is also easy to switch in the audio monitor to hear what you are transmitting.
Also tested digital modes JT-65, FT-8 and PSK31 after configuring the software for the rig. The audio scope helps look at the signal quality on digital modes. I did not find any notable differences in using the 7300 vs the 7100 on digital.
So overall I am impressed by the new rig especially on SSB Phone. I’ll likely expand on this review as I get some more time on the rig but I am happy with what I have seen thus far.
The IC-7100 is now setup as my base VHF/UHF rig and I hope to play with DSTAR on it for the first time sooner rather than later. I will continue to have it connected to my PC for rig control and can switch in HF when needed.
April 12, 2017
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It took long enough but I finally setup the IC-7100 for VHF/UHF use. The rig was programmed with the local repeater frequencies using RT-Systems programming software and a download from Repeater Book. Pretty straightforward overall. I should be able to use the IC-7100 on digital VHF nets run hear locally. There is a 6:30 net on Wednesdays through the repeater and a Simplex net on Thursdays at 7pm. I will still share the discone between this rig and the Yaesu FT-2900R.
One thing I noticed thus far is that he IC-7100 is hitting the repeaters in Harlingen and in South Padre Island. Not sure why this is but glad it seems to work.
Next up I’ll try and configure DStar.
November 7, 2016
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I dug around in a junk box and found a TV transformer and a length of 300 Ohm twin lead. Looking at the frequencies of the local TV channels, they are spread between 506 and 674 MHz UHF. Channel 5 is on 210Mhz VHF. I am thinking of cutting a 1/2 wavelength of the twin lead cut for 580MHz and making a folded dipole out of it. I’ll place the transformer right at the feedpoint. It strikes me that this would work better than the dipole I sourced from the flea market. I’ll build one of these and do an A vs. B test over the next few days.
I may also try a coaxial dipole made from RG-59 or RG-6 coax just for grins as well. That could end up being and even cheaper version that is at least tuned to the TV frequencies.
I figure the cost of making one of the dipoles is around $5 with the transformer being the bulk of the cost. The coaxial dipole would eliminate the need for a transformer. 300 Ohm twin lead for TV is getting hard to find but I am expecting decent performance.
The loop antenna makes some sense as being better than the dipole. It has some directivity, gain and it is better matched to the TV transformer.The crossed loops that are at the flea market would make sense in that they provide a more omnidirectional pattern (assuming that they are properly constructed).
August 13, 2016
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My TYT MD-380 arrived yesterday for DMR use. First impression is positive as looks like a solidly build radio and comes complete with charger, two UHF antennas and a USB programming cable. I downloaded the TYT software and drivers from their website and these installed without issue. I did not have the Talkgroup info available oto program this myself, but Joe, N5JLR, met with me this morning and downloaded the code block needed to setup the radio for use on the local repeater.
Amazingly crisp audio during a QSO is the result! I am looking forward to playing with this and many thanks to Joe and the local digital club for getting DMR on the air for this area.
August 7, 2016
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I ordered a TYT MD-380 DMR radio today on Amazon. It should arrive by end of next week. In preparation to setting this up, I have registered my call-sign. The local digital group has setup a local repeater that is linked to one in the upper valley as well. Should be fun to play with digital voice on UHF.